OUR Civic Duty Association (OCIDA) says President Edgar Lungu has lamentably failed to deal with various governance issues like corruption in Zambia.
And OCIDA has wondered whether President Lungu’s conscience is allowing him to mutilate the Constitution.
Speaking during a press briefing at Kapingila House, Wednesday, OCIDA management committee chairperson Gilbert Temba said President Lungu had failed to act against corruption.
“Mr President, you are on record when you publicly acknowledged and admitted to the scourge of corruption in your government. To help you deal with this cancer such institutions as the Auditor General’s Office, the FIC and ACC have provided you the ammunition you need to swiftly kill this cancer. But what has been your response to such help; negative. For example you have failed to deal with: ministers who have accumulated unexplained wealth. Ministers who are under investigation by the Anti-Corruption Commission, by claiming that they are innocent until proven guilty. How can they be proven guilty if not investigated in a conducive environment, but are left to organise against such prosecution – PF cadres with audacity swarm court premises and disrupt effective proceedings of the court? This has now become a pattern for every minister who is found wanting and taken to court,” Temba said.
“The purchase of 42 fire tenders at an exorbitant price of US$1 million each has up to now remained unexplained; the purchase of more expensive ambulances by the Ministry of Health, against much cheaper units. The donated police bicycles are still a mystery; and the unexplained contract for the supply of millions of US dollars’ worth of pharmaceuticals, which was awarded to an individual. We want to send a message to our Republican President. And the message is simple; please show leadership, not by words but by your actions. You were elected to do just that, but hitherto Mr President you have failed lamentably, as demonstrated on just a few matters of governance highlighted above, not even mentioning your economic management.”
Temba said it was worrying that the party in government was in the forefront of instigating acts of violence.
“We wish to express our grave concerns on the escalating political violence and associated governance matters, which speak to the fast deteriorating political governance conditions in our country. We have sadly observed that the current incidents of political violence in the country are primarily being triggered and fuelled by statements from senior Patriotic Front leaders, including individuals with public authority, such as members of parliament, ministers and worst by even higher ranking officials in government, who have lately issued threats to anyone raising concerns on matters of public interest, particularly on political governance matters. This is extremely saddening in that the party in government who should be the first to lead by example and denounce and curtail political violence, are at the forefront of instigating acts of violence. Much more worrying, this is happening so close to next year’s general elections; virtually signalling a bloody forthcoming election,” he said.
OCIDA condemned President Lungu’s directive to the Minister of Home Affairs to deal with anyone who protested against governance issues.
“OCIDA wishes to condemn in strongest terms a recent “presidential” directive to the minister of home affairs, to deal with anyone protesting. This has been further echoed by the inspector general of police, who obviously is perceived to be following the minister’s orders. In tandem, the Lusaka province Minister also echoed and banned any protests, which led to our young people running into the bush to express their grievances, in fear of the armed police in armoured vehicles who were sent by the inspector general of the police to deal with these unarmed and harmless children! Other ministers and PF members of parliament have declared certain provinces as no-go areas for certain opposition political parties. Very sadly even the “respectable” Republican vice-president has added fuel to the fire by imploring the people of Zambia “to support Bill 10 if they want the police to start arresting pf cadres who were perpetuating violence.” This kind of behaviour can only come from a failed leadership of a country. And we demand accountability,” Temba said.
And Temba wondered why President Lungu wanted to mutilate the constitution.
“We wish to join all well meaning Zambians who have spoken before us, the fundamental constitutional amendments proposed through Bill 10 can only be a scheme meant to “rape” the Constitution of Zambia and destroy the basic fundamentals of constitutionalism. For example, article 52 (1) states that “a candidate shall file that candidate’s nomination paper to a returning officer, supported by an affidavit stating that the candidate is qualified for nomination as president, member of parliament or councillor, …”. In this regard, repealing article 52, as proposed in Bill 10 is a deceptive way of taking away the power of the returning officer to reject the nomination paper of a candidate that does not meet the qualifications or procedural requirements. Similarly, article 101 (3) states that “if at the initial ballot, a presidential candidate does not receive more than fifty percent of the valid votes cast, a second ballot shall be held within thirty-seven days of the initial ballot,” he said.
“The proposed amendment in Bill 10 of a coalition government is another deceptive way of electing a minority president as opposed to the current article 47 (1), which provides for a majoritarian electoral system as follows: “elections to the office of president shall be conducted directly, under a majoritarian electoral system, where the winning candidate must receive more than fifty percent of the valid votes cast,…” The amended constitution that you Mr President assented on 5th January 2016 was hitherto the most progressive constitution the country had ever crafted since independence in 1964. Remember there was no acrimony to this 2016 constitution – in fact you were heralded as a true hero who gave the people of Zambia for the first time something worth celebrating. Alas, hardly 4 years later, you want to mutilate or kill your own child? Mr President, where is your conscious? Chiefs and other traditional leaders who, according to electoral laws, are supposed to remain neutral in so far as politics are concerned, have been bought new vehicles, meant to influence their support for Bill 10.”
Meanwhile, Temba questioned why the police had consistently failed to deal with the PF cadres who terrorised innocent citizens.
“OCIDA has learnt with alarm reports of blatant impunity by PF cadres, in total disregard of the law and public order. In this respect, a radio station in Mufulira, where a president of an opposition political party was being interviewed was targeted for attacks by PF cadres. We wish to point out that all these actions are being done in contravention of the supreme law of the land, the constitution, and other supportive legislation. We further question why the police have consistently failed to firmly deal with the PF cadres who terrorise innocent citizens with most despicable behaviour (such as brandishing machetes and pangas in public), and why the law is being applied selectively in this regard?” Temba asked.
“As alluded to above, recently youths who had simply wanted to breath; in order to express themselves over issues of bad governance, were instead threatened by machine-gun toting police officers, instead of the police providing them security for them to freely express themselves, as guaranteed under our constitution. Such actions by the police command reflect a breakdown of law and order, and may consequently lead to anarchy where victims will in turn seek ways to protect themselves, since the police cannot be relied upon.”
OCIDA also insisted that they wanted to know the person who was behind the gassing incidences.